Back To Top

Website about Goryeo Buddhist Paintings in US museums launched

A website carrying information about Buddhist paintings from the Goryeo Kingdom (918-1392) currently held at US museums has been launched.

The digital catalogue, “Goryeo Buddhist Painting: A Closer Look,” launched by the Cultural Heritage Administration and the US-based Freer and Sackler Galleries, was revealed to the public Saturday.

The website carries information about the 16 Goryeo paintings owned by eight museums in the US: Freer and Sackler Galleries (three), Metropolitan Museum of Art (five), Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (three), Asian Art Museum, San Francisco (one), Brooklyn Museum (one), Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Harvard University Art Museums (one), Cleveland Museum of Art (one) and Rhode Island School of Design Museum (one).

“Water-Moon Avalokiteshvara (Suwol-Gwaneum-Do)” Cultural Heritage Administration
“Water-Moon Avalokiteshvara (Suwol-Gwaneum-Do)” Cultural Heritage Administration

According to CHA, it funded the Freer and Sackler Galleries in its creation of the website that started in 2013, which include detailed research and high-resolution images.

The website, accessible online at, has six sections of objects, people, essays, resources, a selected bibliography and a pattern library. The objects section displays the paintings in high resolution images alongside related information. The essays section features research about the paintings in Korean and English.

CHA officials noted that expert contributions from Chung Woo-thak, professor emeritus at Dongguk University, and J. Kieth Wilson, curator of Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, was crucial in putting together the website. They are credited with the high-resolution imaging, interpretation and translation of the artworks, credit line research and website revision for the past seven years.

“What makes this catalogue special is the high-resolution, detailed images that allow viewers to have a close look at these rare paintings ... visual documentation captures close details of motifs, materials, and techniques that uniquely characterize thirteenth- and fourteenth- century Korean Buddhist paintings and distinguish them from similar works painted elsewhere in East Asia,” Wilson said.

CHA said it will continue research with the Freer and Sackler Galleries for sustained conservation of Goryeo Buddhist paintings. It also vowed to create other platforms for people worldwide to easily access and appreciate Korea’s cultural heritage.

By Yoon Min-sik (